I tried to find a one simple case of censorship or content discrimination in Internet services in Brazil. I looked for cases in which Internet Service Providers (ISPs) blocked access to specific websites or offered more expensive plans that afforded access to more content. As incredible as it may sound, I found nothing.
I thought I might have been doing something wrong, for, after all, I was searching the internet itself. Perhaps my ISP was blocking my searches all along, and when I typed “censorship by Internet Service Providers” on Google, the provider itself could have been filtering my results. It is possible that I was living in an Internet Matrix, in which everything that I see is what the powers that be want me to see, I may never be able to notice.
However, I managed to find several users criticizing the services provided by the company I contract from. Apparently, my ISP is failing miserably in its attempt to censor its users. I was also able to access competitors’ websites and estimate their prices – which, astonishingly, turned out to be better than what I’m currently paying for Internet in some instances.
It can’t be. I tried to enter more websites that could generate some discomfort to my provider. Websites which are known to advocate radical and unorthodox political positions, for example. I had no problems getting to C4SS website. The bookmarks bar on my browser, featuring several libertarian and anarchist websites, remains unscathed.
I am able to watch and download videos, as well as listen to and download music. Torrent websites are as live as ever for me; we can’t even say they are a welcome feature of the Internet for providers. Yet they are still a click away. No matter how many websites I access and how much data I transfer, I still pay the same price each month for Internet. Who would’ve thought?
I could not believe it, because I’ve been told that the Internet was supposed to be almost entirely closed off to me. Without net neutrality regulation, ISPs can charge more money for access and censor websites according to the data plan I happen to subscribe to.
That is what federal deputy Alessandro Molon (PT-RJ) has claimed. According to him, without the so called Civil Landmark of the Internet, a new piece of legislation that enforces net neutrality and has just been approved by the Chamber of Deputies, “people who access Youtube for free today will have to pay more money to watch videos, people who download music will have to pay more money to do it.”
For a minute I really hoped my provider would charge more money for Youtube, so that I wouldn’t be able to access it and listen to Molon’s ridiculous, nauseating lies.
The government claims to be willing to guarantee freedom on the Internet. Well, is that true?
The Brazilian state is in second place when it comes to requests to take content down from Google. Not long ago, it was the leader. Recently, the Superior Court of Justice has ruled that any “offensive content” should be taken down from Youtube.
So, the burden of proving that government net neutrality is going to enhance our freedom, rather than hamper it, is on its advocates.
There is no need of defending unregulated Internet from Alessandro Molon’s and Jean Wyllys‘s hallucinating claims that ISPs – and not the government – are about to take away our liberty. It’s clearly the opposite.
Translations for this article:
- Italian, Neutralità della Rete e Bugie.